Berkeley Students, Community Members Blockade Main Administrative Building to Support Hunger Strike

For Immediate Release

UC Berkeley Students and Community Members
Contact: 

Marco Amaral (619) 764-8540 marco.amaral6@gmail.com

Tanya Smith (510) 325-6381 tanyagays@yahoo.com

Maricruz Manzanarez (510) 375-0245 balucu@hotmail.com

Horacio Corona (fasting) (559) 789-2381 corona12@berkeley.edu

Katherine Isabel Vega (661) 802-2943 kathyivega@gmail.com

Berkeley Students, Community Members Blockade Main Administrative Building to Support Hunger Strike

Protestors urge Chancellor to end the 170 hour fast by meeting demands of strike

BERKELEY, Calif. - Protestors
are now engaged in civil disobedience at the main administrative
building at UC Berkeley.  Police threatened hunger strikers
with arrest early this morning after issuing an order to disperse from
the front lawn facing the California Hall .  Students and
workers on hunger strike have occupied the location since last Monday.
There was no physical confrontation as officers removed tents, bottled
water, and sleeping bags.

George Breslauer, Executive Vice-Chancellor and
Provost at UC Berkeley, announced the end of the hunger strike, but
hunger strikers later reconvened on the lawn and ten new students joined
the hunger strike for the day. They join the 17 students who have not
eaten for one week and two UC employees. The UC employees are Maricruz
Manzanares, a custodian and Abel Salas, a gardener, who are members of
AFSCME Local 3299 and who on the sixth day of the hunger strike.

Mananares will speak at a 3:30 p.m. rally today in
front of California Hall.  They will talk about the UC
administrators' continued insistence on giving out executive increases
while conducting layoffs and cutting hours for essential front line
workers.

"These cuts have been devastating for low-wage
workers," said Lakesha Harrison, president of AFSCME 3299, "Layoffs and
reduction in hours are only the tip of the iceberg. UC executives are
now proposing massive cuts to our retirement. We may be facing a double
whammy - a depletion of our savings now and a gutting of the income we
were counting on for our future."

A committee representing the student and worker
alliance spoke to the chancellor over teleconference during the weekend. 
The students and workers have several demands (full list is
attached below) including that the UC Berkeley administration:

  • Denounce changes in
    Arizona's immigration laws that targets undocumented residents
  • Stop the reduction of hours
    for the lowest-paid workers on the UC campuses
  • Bring back laid off workers

 

As dozens of graduation ceremonies are slated to begin
on Friday, AFSCME 3299 has called on keynote speakers to cancel
appearances at UC campus graduations.  A list of speakers
who have canceled will be released this week. They include current and
former members of the California State Assembly, and a U.S.
Congressperson.

 

For up-to-date information
on the hunger strike visit our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=114079228632152

The demands to end the hunger strike are:

1. Publically denounce
Arizona's SB1070 Law and ask President Yudof and other UC Chancellors to
do the same.  We urge you to bring this up at tomorrow's
UC system-wide meeting with other Chancellors.  Blatantly
racist and xenophobic laws run counter to the values of the UC education
system. 

2. Make UC Berkeley a
Sanctuary Campus and provide extensive protection for undocumented
students.  

3. Drop all student conduct
charges related to protest actions that occurred during the academic
year 2009-10.

4. Stop cuts to low-wage
workers on campus and stop attacks against union activists; rehire all
AFSCME service workers and UPTE union activists and Cal performances
employees.

5. Suspend the Student code
of conduct and initiate a democratic student-led process to review the
code. Those participating in this process should be charged with
attending particularly to concerns about students' due process rights
and to free speech considerations. If, through this review, it is
determined that a new code can be written in any way that adequately
addresses these concerns, a new code should be written by a democratic,
student-led body. If not, the student code of conduct should be
abolished.

6. Accept responsibility for
the violence and escalation of the confrontation surrounding Wheeler
Hall on November 20th and December 11th 2009 that resulted in injuries
to many students and jeopardized the safety and security of AB540
students. Additionally, commit to using non-violent means of ensuring
safety at student demonstrations in the future.

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